(Reuters) – The European Union should consider seizing frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to help pay for the cost of rebuilding Ukraine after the war, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said in an interview with the Financial Times.
The EU and its western allies have put curbs on the Russian central bank’s international reserves since the country began its invasion of Ukraine, actions Moscow describes as a “special military operation”.
Borrell told the newspaper it would be logical for the EU to do what the United States did with Afghanistan’s central bank assets after the Taliban took that country over.
“We have the money in our pockets, and someone has to explain to me why it is good for the Afghan money and not good for the Russian money,” Borrell said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said Borrell’s initiative amounted to “complete lawlessness” and said it would hurt Europe if adopted.
“They (the measures) will deal a blow to Europeans themselves, the modern financial system, and will undermine trust in Europe and in the West overall,” RIA news agency quoted Grushko as saying on Monday.
Russia’s most senior lawmaker said last week that Moscow should confiscate property owned by Westerners in response to a proposal by U.S. President Joe Biden to transfer the frozen assets of Russia’s elite to Ukraine.
Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine prompted Western nations to impose the most severe sanctions in modern history on Russia and Moscow’s business elite, steps President Vladimir Putin has cast as a declaration of economic war.
(Reporting by Akriti Sharma and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and John Stonestreet)